my first @medium post

Last week I made the commitment to myself to write more frequently.  I was motivated by @thisissethsblog in which Godin seems to post daily.  I am not a trained writer but hope to get better.  Most writers say the best way to get better is to write more frequently.

My previous content was a little more thoughtful but it was taking too long to create based upon my new goal.  I was barely posting something once or twice per month on average.

With my new motivation to post more frequently, I wrote an article here about #bumpstocks and the tragedy in Las Vegas.  I then re-posted to Medium.

I was both shocked and excited to get an extremely critical review of the article.  It showed me that people actually read them, but it also provided me some information that even an off the cuff editorial needs to be well thought out.  Everything I wrote made sense to me, but I could easily understand the critique that was posted as a reply.

The experience taught me that even more frequent postings will require thought and attention.  Writing for myself was easy but as I intend to write for others, I need to do better.

Fast and good are possible with more attention.

the spirit of the law #bumpstock

bumpThe horrific shooting in Las Vegas has shaken all rational people to the core.  To imagine the atrocity experienced by the concert goers under attack is the stuff of nightmares.  I recall the scene from Full Metal Jacket as the insane machine gunner murders innocent civilians while flying in a helicopter.

It has been reported that the gunman held an arsenal of weapons in his hotel room.  The primary firearms used seem to have been long arms and assault rifles.

Assault rifles in and of themselves are not typically more dangerous than their peer civilian models.  One can purchase a rifle in .223 with a wooden stock that is not visually menacing but it is equally lethal.  However, those who purchase the military replicas sometimes do so for the plethora of customization marketed to those weapon owners.

The machismo factor in firing an AR-15 may be different to some folks compared to shooting a single shot bolt action .223.  The rounds are equally lethal and the AR is designed to shoot a hell of a lot more of them at once.

The marketplace caters to those who want to look like military but usually aren’t.  Red dot laser scopes, high capacity magazines, tripods and bumpstocks can double the price of the initial gun purchase.

So what is a bumpstock you may ask and why should they be illegal immediately?  It is a device the uses the recoil of a rifle to automatically load the next round into the firing chamber while never removing the finger from the trigger.  In a typical semi automatic rifle setup, a round is only fired upon each pull of the trigger.  While using a bumpstock, the finger may stay depressed and firing continues until you run out of ammo, effectively turning the device into a machine gun (which by and large are illegal).

Trigger pulls on a semi auto may reach 2-3 per second, but audio analysis in Las Vegas show firing rates of 10 rounds per second which tripled the kill rate.

The laws are pretty clear that with the exception of a few rare instances, machine guns are illegal in the United States.  Any attempt to physically alter the firearm to make it automatic is also an offense.  How is it that bump stocks are legal?

Congress must act to remove this threat with minimal debate.  Gun control is a divisive issue in America and I understand both sides talking points.  However, the existence of a device that snubs its nose at the spirit of an existing law should be outlawed itself.

I eagerly await the NRA response.

teaching #mindfulness as a parent

if I had to summarize my parenting goals in one word it would be instilling “mindfulness” in my children.

mindfulness is a state of mind.  it is a process and attitude.  it is caring and feeling.  it is planning and executing.  it is cleaning and organizing.  it is maintaining a sense of awareness and thinking about your surroundings, obligations, and actions.

be mindful and straighten the room.  close the drawers, make the bed, pick up the dirty clothes.

be mindful when talking to friends.  don’t gossip. be kind. be inclusive.  be empathetic.  be supportive.  be a listener.  be reliable

be mindful with distractions.  phones are not evil, but overuse is.  minimize video games.  have a purpose while online.  don’t get sucked into rabbit holes and youtube traps.

be mindful with aspirations.  write down goals.  make a plan. get mentoring and tutoring.  ask for help.  give help.

be mindful with school. plan ahead. don’t procrastinate. turn free time into work time when needed. don’t take the easy way out. join clubs. try something new.

be mindful with possessions.  take care of your clothes.  be gentle with your electronics.  don’t thrown things. don’t lose things.

be mindful in your routine.  pack your bag the night before. put your papers away. lay out your clothes. give your self time.  don’t expect everything to go perfectly to make your bus on time.

the list will continue to grow in time.  but in all cases, simply slowing down and applying some level of mindfulness and thought to their lives will help my children become better people.

my @tompetty moment

I was skiing in Colorado with my family and we took a day trip to Beaver Creek.  I wasn’t expecting huge crowds but the parking lots were all packed.  Every lot we tried to access was already full and closed for the day.

Eventually we were directed to a lot pretty far away from the base called Rodeo Lot.  You could tell by the fencing and chutes, that there were actual rodeos held here in warmer weather.

We unpacked the car and put on our boots for the walk to the bus stop close by.

For me, getting to the base area is the most stressful part of the skiing experience.  My kids still need help with their boots but at least they are old enough to carry their own gear (assuming they don’t forget anything or drop anything along the way.)  The bus can be very hot as you sweat under the layers of clothing.  You may feel cramped if the bus is full and the smell, well…….

A few moments into the 10 minute bus ride to the base, Free Falling by Tom Petty came on the radio.  It started slowly as one or two people started quietly singing the lyrics along and grew louder and louder until the whole bus had joined in.

It was such a magical start to the day and I will never forget it.

I’ve been to a couple of Petty concerts and had such a great time.  His music will live on forever just as my memory of that bus ride at Beaver Creek, CO.

how do you carry on? #lasvegas

While watching the news coverage from Las Vegas today I thought about our confrontation with pain and despair.   In my binary mind I think we really have two choices.

Give in and go down a road of misery and contempt.

Or.

Pull those close to you inward and be kind to any and all people you interact with.

When you feel overwhelmed in a world that seems to be sinking fast, recall the words of Mohandas Ghandi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Fight evil with kindness.

Fight apathy with empathy.

Fight inaction with advocacy.

Don’t give in.  Be the change.

 

 

 

take the job and then figure it out.

I’ve heard it said more than once that if you get offered a job but aren’t sure you are qualified, just take it and figure it out as fast as you can.

I have recently followed this advice by taking on a part time technology contract position in which I have little experience to speak of.  However, the people I work with have been encouraging as they have helped educate me in technologies I had literally never used before.

The more often I work, the more I learn and feel slightly more competent every day.  I watch training videos in my free time and am in the process of installing some VMWare tools to learn even faster.

I must admit that the first few days were wrought with anxiety as I thought people would see through my confident exterior.  My face was tired from the constant clenching of my jaw and my fingernails were chewed down to the skin.  Thankfully each day has gotten easier and I will eventually be competent in my role.

I wouldn’t say I am in the “fake it till you make it” camp, but sometimes sitting back, being quiet, and searching for information prior to asking for it can be a decent strategy for a new job.

 

@ThisIsSethsBlog for inspiration

I just found Seth Godin’s work online

Aside from the content, the thing that amazes me the most about Seth’s writing is that he commits to publishing every day.  I don’t yet know if he writes every day or manages to bang out 5 in one day and save them for the rest of the week.  However, the dedication to daily publishing is quite inspiring.

When I started my blog it was a spin off of some professional writing I was doing on LinkedIn.  @blogsofstuff was focused on personal finance, life hacking, and anything of interest to me at that time.  As the name implies, it was full of “stuff”.

Sometimes I would go weeks without writing.  I always felt that my posts had to be really unique and mind blowing to be worth while.  I am learning that consistency may be the better approach.  There is no need to create a masterpiece 3 page blog every time I write.  Sometimes a few paragraphs on a more regular basis will yield better traffic and interest.  At the very least, it will force me to sit down and produce.

As all of the experts say, “done is better than perfect.”

healthcare advocate

healthcareOK…

Some of this may be a little gross, but it is important to read this in becoming your own healthcare advocate.

I went to a dermatologist today to have a plantar wart treated.  Plantar warts are unpleasant.  They are warts that grow on the bottom of the foot.  They make every step feel like there is a pebble in your shoe.  As the warts grow so does the pain.

After numerous over the counter treatments and old wives tale remedies that failed to shrink the wart, I decided to have it professionally treated.

I met the dermatologist.  She was a newer doctor and not one that I recognized from the practice when I visited a few years earlier.

She examined my foot and was indecisive about my lesion.  She was thinking out loud and settled on a diagnosis of a callous.

In my opinion she was misdiagnosing my problem.  I have had warts through most of my life and was quite familiar with their characteristics: cauliflower looking skin, black dots in the middle, regrowth after trimming, etc.

When the Dr, seemed committed to the callous diagnosis I had a pit in my stomach.  I don’t go to the doctor often and for me to have my chief complaint minimized felt frustrating.

In a split second I needed to make a big decision… Do I accept the diagnosis that I believe is wrong and leave the office dissatisfied?  Or… do I advocate for myself with the understanding that the doctor will be offended that I am questioning her judgement.  So many things could go wrong for me.  She could think I am questioning her because she is a female (untrue).  She could think I am questioning her because I think she is young (untrue).  None of these are good outcomes and will lead to extreme awkwardness whether I am right or wrong.

I decided to go for it.

I very politely told her…”with all due respect to you and your training, I believe my experience is consistent with a plantar wart.  Can you have a peer consult and take a look?”

She was clearly irritated and left the room as she told me she would ask a partner to look.

After a 20 minute wait, the partner came in and examined my foot.  He manipulated it in a way that was different than her style.  The results from his physical manipulation were different than when she did it.  He looked through a special magnifying glass lined with lights.

When he looked up from the visual exam, he asked her “did you use this?”

She said yes.

But in that moment I knew I was right and she was wrong.

The senior doctor smiled and shook my hand as I thanked him for his time and flexibility.

He said that he and the other doctor would discuss outside and be right back.  Again, I immediately knew that this meant she did not make the correct diagnosis.

When the original dermatologist re-entered the room she said that the senior doctor thinks it “may” be a wart I was not surprised.  We agreed to try freezing the wart and she applied the treatment.

In the end, my decision to break societal norms and question the expert led to a more useful visit for me.  I feel badly that the clinically trained doctor made a mistake.  I also feel badly that she will probably be angry and may telling herself I questioned her because of her gender.  Hopefully, she will be self aware and think about it at the end of the day to learn from the experience.

As for me, advocating for myself was rewarding.  Too often we accept experts as dogma.  In my case the results of a misdiagnosis would not be too impactful, but if it were for a more meaningful health issue the impact could be of life or death.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and do not be embarrassed or ashamed to persist until you are satisfied with the answers.

best man speech, 15 years old

 

champagne-glassesAbout 15 years ago, I was honored to be the best man in my friend’s wedding.  It was a destination event at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  I remember the day was very hot and we were all wearing heavy wool suits.  I knew I wanted a short toast and the weather definitely solidified my decision….

It went like this.

Friends and family, we are gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of Kevin and Erin.  When Kevin asked me to be his best man I was humbled but excited to fill the role.

I was there the night that Kevin and Erin met so I feel uniquely qualified to send them into wedded bliss.  Watching their relationship evolve from a single dance at a frat party to this wedding today allowed me to also get to know Erin.  She is smart, kind, funny, and most importantly …. tolerant!

Kevin and I met in college.  We were roommates and became fast friends.

I can be judgmental with my friends.  I might rank them and the absolute best friends are those like Kevin.  I know that I can ask Kevin to help me move apartments or bail me out of jail at 2 AM with no questions asked.

And ever since Kevin and Erin’s engagement last year, I have been preparing to to formally give up the title as Kevin’s best friend.  Today marks the final transition of that process as Kevin and Erin pledge eternal love.

But Kevin you know you can always count on me any time.  If you ever need me to bail you out of jail at 2AM I will be there in a flash.

But from now on, you’ll need to call Erin first!

Thank you and Cheers!!!!